Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks let loose with a few primal howls as they left the court, cutting through the scattered boos and gloomy silence at Staples Center.
After back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavericks are headed home with something coach Rick Carlisle insists they expected.
These longtime playoff disappointments have a golden opportunity to knock out the two-time defending champions.
Nowitzki scored 24 points, Shawn Marion added 14 and the Mavericks stunned the erratic Lakers 93-81 in Game 2 on Wednesday night, taking a 2-0 second-round lead with consecutive road wins.
“If you would have told me before that were going to win both games, that would have been hard to believe,” Nowitzki said. “But I think we earned it.”
Jason Kidd scored 10 points for the Mavericks, who pushed the Lakers halfway to playoff elimination with Nowitzki’s stellar shooting, another steady defensive performance, and a decisive 9-0 fourth-quarter rally. Dallas did nothing spectacularly well, yet was significantly better than the cold-shooting Lakers on both ends.
“We came to compete, and we came to make something happen here,” Marion said. “We made our presence felt on both ends of the floor tonight. We did a good job of handling their pressure and just going out there and doing what we’ve been doing all postseason, just playing good defense and just playing our style of play.”
Kobe Bryant scored 23 points for the Lakers, who hadn’t lost the first two games of a playoff series since the 2008 NBA finals — also the last series they lost. Only three NBA teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two at home, where dismayed fans sent the Lakers off with boos and jeers.
“We came here to win two games,” Carlisle said. “We’re going to need every gun blazing and throw the kitchen sink at these guys when they come to our place.”
Game 3 is Friday night in Dallas.
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